Common sense says that kids have a great imagination, and it’s easy to see why. Unlike adults and even older teens, children can play pretend without any rules to guide them. That’s why the best RPGs for kids are the ones that let adults spend meaningful time with their children. RPGs can also help older kids socialise with their peers, either autonomously or with the help of a grownup.
Best RPGs for kids
- Hero Kids
- No Thank You, Evil!
- Little Monster Detectives
- Princess World - Short Story Edition
- Power Outage
- Magical Kitties Save the Day
- Animon Story
- Fabula Ultima
- Maze Rats
There isn’t a single best RPG for kids, because different kids have different needs. Many children and even some teens might struggle with the complexity of Dungeons & Dragons, while the heavy themes of World of Darkness might not be suitable for younger players. On the other hand, older kids will prefer games that are a bit harder, a bit edgier, and most importantly, not ‘for kids’.
1. Hero Kids
The best RPG for kids with premade scenarios
Hero Kids is the most popular RPG designed explicitly for kids. Considering that it’s been around since 2012, it might also be the first successful RPG for kids. The fantasy setting and familiar character archetypes certainly helped it reach such popularity, but so did the successful streamlining of classic fantasy RPG mechanics.
The basic mechanics of Hero Kids are simple enough that even players who haven’t yet mastered additions can figure them out. Every challenge involves rolling a bunch of six-sided dice and picking the single highest result as your final score. If a character’s die is higher than their opponent’s, the roll is a success. This is how the game handles every challenge, the only difference being how that dice pool is created.
Buy Hero Kids on DriveThruRPG.
2. No Thank You, Evil!
The best RPG for kids of all ages
No Thank You, Evil! describes itself as a game of make-believe rather than an RPG, a fitting description of a product aimed at children as young as five years old. But don’t let that number scare you: No Thank You, Evil works just as well for older children and even middle-schoolers.
This excellent age range comes courtesy of the game’s modular character creation. Characters can individually be scaled up or down in complexity, opening the table to children of varying ages. The titular ‘No Thank You, Evil!’ token is another great mechanic for a game like this, a safety tool that explicitly allows young players to communicate that the game is getting too intense for them.
3. Little Monster Detectives
The best RPG for kids under 5
RPGs for kids come in a lot of genres and styles, but they are not all equally common. Unsurprisingly, horror and mystery are the least represented genres. That leaves Little Monster Detectives, a horror mystery RPG for children as old as three, in a bit of a weird spot. Of course, this isn’t really a scary game: the horror theme is only there to help kids explore their fears in a safe environment.
Little Monster Detectives can be a great game for families, but it’s simple enough that kids will eventually be able to play it on their own. The game sees you taking on the role of monster detectives tasked with a series of investigations. You explore parts of the house and collect clues until you’re ready to guess which monster is responsible for causing trouble.
Buy Little Monster Detectives on DriveThruRPG.
4. Princess World - Short Story Edition
The best RPG for kids under 10
Princess World is an RPG aimed at children as old as eight but has enough meat on its bones to be enjoyable for adults and older kids alike. It uses a generic setting that can be tweaked by the group but is bound to become a bit wild, given that characters, all princesses, vary from space aliens to fairies and skateboarders.
Character creation is immediate, as each princess already has stats of her own. You only need to add details like your favourite colour, your character’s name, and decide what connections (or Threads) your princess has with the other characters. This system helps define the group’s dynamic quickly and encourages character interaction, since Threads can be used to boost rolls and get other advantages.
5. Power Outage
The RPG for kids with the best accessibility options
Power Outage is a superhero RPG meant to be enjoyable for children as young as four, but it shines for having explicit accessibility accommodations for kids with disabilities. The game’s complexity can also be tailored to each player. Plenty of attention went into making the game accessible to kids who can’t read, such as using different colours to represent the five stats on the character sheet.
The rules should be familiar to anyone who has ever played Dungeons & Dragons or any other d20 game. But Power Outage isn’t just a streamlined D&D. It’s an adaptation that uses a simplified ruleset to let the kids’ imagination shine. Take Yield points: they work exactly like regular hit points, but thanks to careful working, they open up the possibility of a peaceful conflict resolution without the added complexity of diplomacy rolls or a different point tracker.
Buy Princess World - Short Story Edition on DriveThruRPG.
6. Magical Kitties Save the Day
The best RPG for kids about animals
Magical Kitties Save the Day is an RPG that anyone can enjoy, or at least anyone with a love of cats. In this all-ages RPG every kitty has a human, and every human has a problem. As magical kitties, it’s your job to discover the humans’ problems and solve them before the villains make things worse.
Character creation and rolls are extremely simple but always meaningful. Any action is certain to bring the story forward, regardless of how well a roll goes, and how you succeed is just as important as whether you succeeded at all. It's worth mentioning that players have a very active role in Magical Kitties. While this isn’t a zero-prep RPG, players are the only ones rolling dice, which makes them feel in control and keeps downtime to a minimum.
7. Animon Story
The best monster-catching RPG for kids
Animon Story is an approachable RPG about kids and their monster friends. It’s a bit Pokémon and a lot like Digimon, but even players unfamiliar with those series can’t escape the appeal of a magical animal companion. Even better, players get to design their own Animon as well as each of their evolution. The human and the companion are effectively two halves of one character.
Mechanically, Animon Story is simple but satisfying. Character creation is easy as they come, while the dice pool rolls keep things chunky. One standout mechanic is the simulated bond between the characters and their Animons. This will shrink and shake between sessions only to reach its limit during the grand finale, lending a satisfying narrative progression to the campaign.
Buy Animon Story on Itch.io.
8. Fabula Ultima
The best RPG for teens that are into anime
Fabula Ultima likes to wear its inspirations on its sleeve: the game calls itself a ‘TTJRPG’ and its Latin name literally translates to “Final Fantasy”. As expected, the game features loving recreations of the minutiae and tropes of the classic video game genre, accompanied by a pleasing anime aesthetic. The anime and JRPG theme are sure to work great with some kids; chances are, if a child is intrigued by roleplaying games, they’re already into anime and/or video games.
Fabula Ultima might be too complicated for young children, being a lot crunchier than most for-kids RPGs. But it’s just about the perfect level of crunch for middle schoolers and teenagers. Fabula Ultima’s real strength is that it manages to bring to life the arduous Shonen fights and the sprawling Final Fantasy stories without an equally arduous and sprawling manual.
Buy Fabula Ultima on DriveThruRPG.
The best RPG for creative teens
Gaming has no shortage of little critters fighting against impossible odds, but Wanderhome is might be the best RPG in the genre to put in front of kids. For one, this is a game about exploration and diplomacy, not combat. There are no rules dedicated to battles and it’s unlikely that a fight will ever break out during a session.
That said, Wanderhome might not be a great game for young children. While it is harmless, the introspective and mature themes might not be very interesting to them. But the character-driven narration and focus on personal motivation might just be perfect for a creative group of teenagers.
Buy Wanderhome from publisher Possum Creek Games.
10. Maze Rats
The best OSR game for older teens
If you’re looking for an old-school roleplaying game that won’t turn away newcomers, Maze Rats is for you. Old-school roleplaying, or OSR, is a style of RPGing inspired by the ’70s and ’80s editions of Dungeons & Dragons and similar games. Maze Rats takes the best parts of OSR games, like how the simplicity of the rules encourages creativity, and updates all the outdated mechanics that would put off new players.
While Maze Rats is a simple game that encourages creativity and communal world-building, it isn’t explicitly made for kids. For one, this is a deadly game. Your characters will die, most likely during the first few sessions. Still, older kids might like the high stakes that come with the possibility of losing their character. And in the end, it’s up to the GM to decide whether an encounter is lethal or if it only leaves a character incapacitated.
Buy Maze Rats on DriveThruRPG.